By Sarah Saint Ives
"I can't live this way any more." Hercules stood face to face with the god of war for the first time in nearly a year. Ares looked the same. Years could pass and his face was unchanged, but Hercules had aged. Round his brilliant blue eyes were weary lines, darkened skin below them. He had lost weight, it showed. He did not carry himself with quite the same sense of pride he had once exuded. He was a man who had lost everything and everyone dear to him.
Ares' keen perception picked up on all these things. "What happened?" he asked, as if Hercules' losses were amusing to him. "Did someone die?"
The dark god's mouth fell open in shock. "He's dead?"
"Yes, he's dead. And there are times I would like to join him."
"I know plenty of ways you could commit suicide. Would you like some suggestions?"
Hercules glared at him, but said nothing. He moved to AresÆ throne and flopped down across it, feet dangling over one armrest, head thrown back over the other. "Ares, I need your help." It came out with a broken sob.
Ares stood indecisively for a moment before he approached him again. "What do you want from me?"
"Bring him back."
"I'm a god, Hercules, not a miracle worker. I can't bring him back from the dead."
"Then send me back to the past."
"What? I can't do that."
"Yes, you can. You sent Iolaus back to save me once. Send me back to save him."
Ares chewed his lower lip thoughtfully. "It's forbidden."
"Did that ever stop you before? You cared about Iolaus! I know you did! You liked him, and you know he was a worthy mortal! Send me back into time so I can change what happened!" The demi-god reached up and clutched the lapels of the black leather vest. "Please, Ares!"
Ares sighed reluctantly and took hold of his hands, removed them from his vest. "Oh, all right. Stop your whining, Hercules. I'll do it."
Hercules sat up anxiously and smiled through tears. "Thank you, Ares."
AresÆ smile was genuine. "Just don't let him get killed this time." he said. "And try not to change anything important, all right?"
"I'll be careful." Hercules promised, and closed his eyes as Ares threw a wave of power at him. He felt himself spinning, spinning, then landing flat on his butt on hard ground. Opening his eyes, he looked around, not at the walls of Ares' temple, but at trees and rocks. He was alone in the twilight in a vast wilderness.
He stood, rubbing his butt, studied his surroundings. This place looked very familiar. Very familiar. The path, the trees, the distant sounds of calling birds. The smell of a nearby sea.
Corinth! He was in Corinth!
Voices sent him scurrying behind a bush. Immediately, three young men came bursting through the trees, talking as they walked, joking, and playfully jabbing one another. Hercules stood straight, staring stupidly at them. The biggest of the three young men he was staring at was himself as a teenager. Iolaus and Jason accompanied him.
It was Jason who spotted him first. "Who are you?" he demanded. "And what are you doing hiding there?"
Hercules stared, speechless, so the three boys readied themselves, suspicious of the stranger's motives. Young Hercules drew near, not as threatening as the others. "Who are you? Can't you talk?" he asked.
Finding his voice, Hercules answered. "Yes, I can talk. I was just surprised, that's all. I'm just........passing through."
"What's your name?" young Hercules asked.
"Heracles! That's almost like my name! I'm Hercules!" The young man offered his hand in friendship, and when Hercules shook with him, he turned to make introductions. "This is Jason, the crowned prince of Corinth and this is my friend, Iolaus."
Hercules stepped out from his hiding place and exchanged the friendly handshake with first the prince, then with the blonde. Then, his eyes fastened on Iolaus, he said to young Hercules, "I need to talk to you. It's very important. There are things we need to discuss."
The two friends stood protectively, ready to fight if necessary.
"I won't hurt you." The older Hercules assured them quietly, gazing at Iolaus with profound affection.
Iolaus was fascinated with him. He stepped closer, reached out to touch his cheek. "Hercules..." he said, speaking to the younger Herc. "Do you know who this is? You're alike, you and him. Your face, your eyes....do you know who this is?"
"Who?" asked Young Hercules, intrigued.
"This has to be Zeus, your father!"
Hercules laughed and took the blonde in his arms. "Oh, Iolaus, I'm not Zeus," he whispered to him. "It's me. I'm Hercules. I should have known you would recognize me even twenty years older."
Iolaus squirmed in the stranger's embrace, and Young Herc came to the rescue, pulling him away from the older man.
"Who are you? Really?" Young Herc demanded, his arm defensively around Iolaus.
"I'm you, Hercules, twenty years in the future." Hercules seated himself on a flat rock and held out his arm, pushed the leather wrist-guard down to show him a long, jagged scar. "This happened when I was eight, when I saved my brother Iphicles from falling over a cliff. I tore it open on a sharp rock. Remember that?" Then, leaning over, he untied his left boot. As he slid it off, he exposed his bare foot to the two younger men. "See this?" He pointed to the heel where a large blue mark stained the skin. "You know what that is. Look at your own foot."
Iolaus stooped to examine the mark. "Hercules, he *is* you!" he said, wonderingly. "It's your birthmark!"
"If you're me," the young Hercules said, still doubtfully, "Pick up that rock you're sitting on there."
Hercules sighed and stood, turned and hefted the rock from its resting place. He lifted it high above his head, then, without effort, replaced it in the exact spot from whence it came. Proof. "Now do you believe me?" he asked as he sat down again and put on his boot.
The three young men were awe-stricken. "Why did you come back?" Young Herc asked. "What's going on?"
"I pleaded with Ares until he sent me back....to save Iolaus."
"Something's going to happen to Iolaus?"
"It will unless you do something to prevent it," Hercules answered. "I think this is going to take a while to explain, so let's make a fire. I'll tell you everything."
"I have to get back." Jason said, his eyes on the western horizon. The sun had already set and darkness was quickly falling. "You know they'll send out troops looking for me if I'm not there."
"Go ahead," Young Hercules said. "We'll see you in the morning."
"Just be sure you're there by daybreak."
"They'll be there." Hercules promised him. "Good luck to you, future king. You're going to do great things for Corinth."
Jason hesitated and smiled at him. "Really? I wish I could stay and hear about them."
"Just be yourself. You're going to do just fine."
With a wave and a boyish grin, Jason jogged away.
Young Hercules went to gather firewood, which left Iolaus temporarily alone with the older man. Taking the opportunity, Herc reached out to touch the long, golden curls. "I've missed you, my friend." he murmured.
Iolaus was mystified by him. "What....what, exactly happened to me?"
"You were killed. We can't let that happen again. Somehow, some way, we have to stop it from happening. Don't ever leave Europe. Don't go across the sea. Never talk to a woman named Nebula. Stay with me, and don't let me do anything foolish."
"What are you talking about?"
"I love you, Iolaus. I don't want you to die."
Iolaus shivered and backed away from him just as Young Herc returned with an armload of sticks. "Please..." he interfered. "Even if you *are* me. Keep your hands off my friend."
"But it's him I'm here to save."
"You're scaring him."
Hercules realized he was right. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to frighten you. Trust me. I'm here to keep you alive." He said to Iolaus, his hand still extended toward him. "Please trust me."
Iolaus only paused an instant before he accepted the arm around him. Young Herc moved closer and found the other arm extended to him. Slowly, with less certainty than his friend, he walked into a three-way hug.
"It's cool to hug yourself, isn't it, Herc?" Iolaus kidded, poking the other young man in the ribs.
The young demi-god smiled bashfully and pulled away. "I'll make the fire," he said.
"Uncle Ares! Listen! What's that noise?" Strife, god of mischief cocked his ear, his impish face held in a pose of fixed enthusiasm. "It's those young do-gooders! You know, your adorable little brother and his cute little blonde friend! I can hear them talking!" He was practically bouncing with energy. "Are we gonna go beat ‘em up? Are we, Uncle Ares? Are we, hmmm?" He clapped his hands eagerly.
Ares gave him a long, sober gaze that ended in a sneer of disgust. "Go lay down, you little shit! Beat ‘em up? Don't you have any imagination, Strife? Think of all the possibilities."
Strife's blue eyes rolled in deep contemplation.
Ares whacked him on the back of the shoulder, which shoved the smaller god to his hands and knees on the ground. "You're an idiot, Strife! Think!"
Strife hastened to his feet again, a look of total confusion in his blue eyes. "Okay! Give me a clue, Unc! You want to kidnap the little one and torture him?"
The idea appealed to Ares, it was obvious. He stood watching the fireside talkers, his index finger pressed into his cheek. "Who's the stranger?" he asked, squinting. "He looks familiar."
"I don't know. I can find out. I'll sneak closer and listen to what they're saying!"
"No, it's not important." Ares pointed to young Iolaus. "You want him, Strife?"
Strife looked up at him with a question. "Want Iolaus? Me?"
"DO YOU WANT HIM?" Ares boomed loudly enough to be heard by the three men they were spying on.
"Yes!" Strife answered, unsettled and perplexed. "Of course I want him! Are you going to give him to me?"
"He's yours, Strife." Ares laid a hand across his shoulders. "But you can't hurt him."
"Then what good is he to me? What can I do?" Then, almost as soon as the words left his lips, the light came on inside his eyes. "Oh! I get it! I'm supposed to seduce him, right?"
"Now you're getting the idea." Ares graced him with a smile. "Good boy, Strife. Now go get him."
Strife giggled and danced a quick jig around him before he vanished. He reappeared behind the blonde, hooked both arms around his waist and with another maniacal cackle, he and Iolaus disappeared.
"Iolaus!" Both Hercules made a grab for them too late. Iolaus was gone.
"Strife!" Iolaus struggled against the straps that bound him to the wall by wrists and ankles. "Let me go!"
Strife leaned to place a quick kiss on his lips. "Ooooh! Yes! Perfect! And you're all mine!" He jumped back as Iolaus lunged at him, laughing hysterically when he was stopped short by the straps.
Iolaus spit in his face. "Leave me alone, you son of a dog!"
Wiping away the moisture that trickled down his chin, the pale god reached out, grabbed Iolaus' cheeks and squeezed his lips into an O. "Uncle Ares said I couldn't hurt you, but that doesn't mean I can't do a lot of other nasty things to you. Don't piss me off, Blondie!"
"What do you have in mind?" Iolaus asked, feeling confident that Ares did not want him harmed. "What do you think you're going to do?"
"I can screw you until you beg me to stop!"
"Oooh...I'm just scared to death!" said Iolaus with sarcasm. "You don't think I'll do it?"
"I just dare you to do it, pussy boy! Go ahead! Screw my brains out!"
Strife waved both hands and all clothing on both men was whisked away. "You asked for it, Little One!"
"*Little*?" Iolaus glanced down to his own penis, which was growing hard.
"Oh, so this is turning you on." Strife stopped and viewed the situation. "So you *want* me to screw you blue! You're hot for me."
Iolaus was frustrated. "Hot for you! Ha! Never! You're a dog!"
Strife moved forward again and kissed him roughly, forced his tongue into his mouth. His hands slid down the slender back and cupped the round butt.
Iolaus stopped struggling.
Hercules, young and middle-aged, traipsed through the mud toward the temple of Ares. "Did this happen before?" asked the youth grimly.
"No. That's because I didn't come and stop you on your way home the first time."
"Maybe you just leave a trail of death and destruction everywhere you go. Maybe no matter what you do, it won't change anything for the better because your whole life is just fucked! Maybe I should just kill myself now so nobody else will have to suffer because of me!" The young man wiped away a tear.
Hercules stopped in the path and took him by the shoulders. "My life cannot be that worthless!"
"Have you ever found true love?"
"I had two wives who died. I had Iolaus."
"So Iolaus will become my lover?"
"He didn't. But he should have. I loved him more than anyone. He was my greatest inspiration. I came here to get him back. When we get him back from Strife, I think we need talk about it."
"About me making love to Iolaus?"
"That doesn't have to happen all at once. Take your time. Make it right."
The young man nodded. "You regret that you didn't make him your lover."
"Yes, very much."
"What happened to the two wives you had?"
"They were killed. One by Hera, the other by Strife."
"Strife!" They both knew the danger their friend was in. They began to run.
"Strife, what are you doing?" Ares threw up his hands in annoyance. "You're fucking him? Did I tell you you could fuck him, Strife? Did I?"
"Well.....no..." Strife paused, his hands on Iolaus' hips, his cock half-buried in his ass. "But you didn't tell me I couldn't!"
"Well, now that you're *doing* it, go ahead and finish. But next time, get permission first, okay?" With a sigh of impatience, he sat down to watch.
Iolaus' blue eyes met the god of war's brown ones. "Are you waiting for your turn?" he asked.
"How old are you, Iolaus?" asked Ares.
"Because I thought you were younger. You're older than Hercules?"
"Yeah, two years."
"If you're nineteen, you're not exactly a child, then, are you?"
Strife held up a hand. "Uncle! Do you mind? Could this wait until I'm finished here?"
"Oh, sorry." Ares apologized, settling back. "Just go ahead with what you were doing."
"You mean you wouldn't molest me if I was a minor?" asked Iolaus.
"I'm not into children, Iolaus. You have to be legal."
"Since when do you care about legal? You're a god!"
"I've never molested a child, Iolaus. And I never will."
"But you've been with every member of your family. That's incest, right? I heard you
had been with animals!"
Ares sat up straight. "I have *not* been with animals! Well....unless you count the centaur or the hind.... And I have not been with every member of my family. I haven't been with Hercules yet."
"Yet? So you're just waiting til he's old enough, right? Is that it?"
Ares shook his head. "Strife, are you about done? I'm getting very horny for this insolent little bastard."
Strife shouted as he climaxed in the blonde's ass, then pulled out his failing erection. "Okay, Unc. Your turn." he said, and got out of the way.
As Ares approached him, his clothes disappeared and Iolaus got a good look at the massive cock. He paled in fear as the god slid in behind him. "Be careful." he pleaded.
Ares kissed his shoulder, then his bicep, then his cheek. "Yes. I'll be careful." he said softly into his ear. He caught the gold earring in his teeth and gently kissed his ear. "You're beautiful." he breathed.
Iolaus felt chillbumps break out all over his body. "Gods," he moaned, pressing himself back against the tremendous cock. "Oh, gods, Ares, don't hurt me."
"I won't hurt you." Ares' lips outlined his ear again, his tongue entered into it. Iolaus drew himself up, to give him better access. "Oh, yeah...." Ares said lustfully, "You're mine, baby."
"Uncle Ares, I thought you said he was mine!" Strife whined.
"Shut up, Strife!" Ares and Iolaus spoke in unison.
Strife plodded away to pout. "Fine, then. Be that way." As the god of mischief left the room, the binds dissolved from Iolaus' wrists and ankles and he was suddenly comfortably spread on a plush mattress.
"Thank you." he said, wrapping his arms around the god's neck as he laid down on top of him. "This is much better. So, do I belong to Strife or to you?"
"You belong to Hercules." Ares answered. "Strife and I are just having a little fun."
Iolaus drew in a long, trembling breath. "I see."
"I hope you're not going to get all emotional on me," Ares said, and kissed him again. His soft eyes conflicted with his words. "I don't love you. You should understand that from the beginning. Now. Do you still want me to fuck you?"
Iolaus turned his face to the side. "Let me go." he said quietly. "Just let me go back to
Ares hesitated only a moment before he got up and lifted Iolaus to his feet. "Okay. Go."
Iolaus stood still. "I'm naked."
Ares gave a flip of his finger and he was fully clothed again. "There you are. Go. You may leave."
The blonde reached up and hugged his neck, pulled his head down for a last long, careful kiss. The god hugged him tightly, returned the kiss with passion. When it was over, he pushed him away. "Go. He's coming up the path now."
Iolaus walked out the door without looking back.
"You're okay?" Both Hercules had looked him over several times to be sure.
"I'm fine. Don't worry about me." Iolaus looked into the fire. "I'm great."
"Why did he grab you?"
"He meant to hold me prisoner, but Ares let me go."
"Ares cares about you." Older Hercules explained. "He always has."
"How do you suggest we live our lives so I'm safe from death?" Iolaus asked.
"I don't know. I think if the two of you get married and live together as man and wife, you'll be safe."
"Man and wife?" Iolaus echoed. "Uh, may I point out one problem with that suggestion?"
"We can fix that problem."
"With Ares' help."
The youngsters looked at him in disbelief. "I don't know. Our entire lives will be different."
"Hera could do to you what she did to Deinera." The older man was thinking. "Unless you were under Ares' protection."
"Why are you counting on Ares?" Young Herc asked angrily. ôYou canÆt depend on him for anything! He's a villain!"
"Because he's in love with Iolaus and he''ll keep him safe if we let him." Iolaus stretched out on the ground with his head in Young Herc's lap. He yawned and curled up on his side, his eyes on the fire. "Ares doesn't love me. He told me so."
"He told you he didn't love you?"
"How did that come up?"
"He said he didn't love me."
"He just....said....he didn't love you?" The older Herc stared at him. "Why would he say that to you?"
"He told Strife he could have me, and then he changed his mind. He said I belonged to you."
"To me." Young Herc repeated.
"Yeah. I'm yours." Iolaus patted his knee.
"What does this have to do with Ares telling you...." The older man decided it was not worth the pursuit. He sighed and smiled at them. "Will you think about what I said, Hercules?"
Young Herc nodded awkwardly. "Sure," he said.
"What did he say, Herc?" Iolaus asked idly.
"You know...about the getting married. I'll get a job as a farmer or something. We'll live happily ever after."
"Would that make you happy?" Iolaus asked.
"It doesn't take much to make me happy. Just knowing you're safe will make me happy."
"Good." Iolaus raised up and kissed him on the lips. "So I'll be safe now?"
"We'll soon find out." said the older man. He struggled to his feet and held up his hands to summon Ares. In a flash, he was gone.
Ares' leg was thrown carelessly over the armrest of the throne as Hercules looked apprehensively around the room. "Did it work?" he asked.
Ares smiled at him as Iolaus, the older version, stepped out from behind the throne and ran into his arms. "Hercules!" he greeted. He tiptoed to kiss his lips, then gave him a lingering hug. "I've missed you!"
Hercules kissed the top of his blonde head, his hand moving from Iolaus' flat chest to the soft bulge at his crotch, proof that he was still male. The demi-god looked gratefully up at the god of war. "Thank you, Ares. I owe you everything."
"Yes, you do. Remember that," said Ares. "Take good care of him, brother."
"Oh, I will. My Iolaus." Hercules murmured, and led him away.